LXII RISE OF THE SAFAVI DYNASTY 253 And Christian merchants, that with Russian stems Plow up huge furrowes in the Caspian sea, Shall vaile to us, as Lords of al the Lake. Milton, too, must have obtained through these pioneers the information on which he based the lines quoted as a heading to this chapter. An Account of Persia by D'Alessandri, A.D. 1571.—The later years of Tahmasp were comparatively uneventful. Uzbeg raids on Khorasan would not trouble him greatly at Kazvin, but a terrible famine which occurred in A.H. 957 (I57I)j an<i a visitation of plague which followed, probably affected the entire country. Not long before his death the Shah was visited by Vincentio A. D' Alessandri,1 Ambassador of Venice, who was sent to the Court at Kazvin to persuade Tahmasp that the Turks were about to seize Cyprus from the Venetians, and that unless he attacked the Ottoman dominions he would be the next victim. The mission failed in its object, but thanks to it we have an interesting description of Persia written by a competent observer. D' Alessandri states among other things that the route from Hormuz was entirely neglected and that the main route via Aleppo was deserted. He also mentions Anthony Jenkinson. His account of Tahmasp is far from flattering. He describes him as " of middling stature, well formed in person and features, although dark, of thick lips and grisly beard." He refers to the fact that he had not left his palace for eleven years and that the people were in consequence unable to present petitions to him. The roads are declared to be unsafe and the judges venal. Altogether the impression conveyed is that the country was utterly neglected by the monarch, who cared only for money and women. IsmailIL, A.H. 984 (1576).—It was the custom among the Safavi monarchs to commit their sons to the guardian- ship of the great tribal chiefs, and consequently, upon the death of Tahmasp, who was poisoned by the mother of one of them, Haydar by name, furious rivalries were unchained. Haydar was on the spot and was the nominee 1 Travels of Venetians in Persia, p. 225 ff.